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Best Vegetarian/Vegan Restaurant Orange County 2011 - Happy Family

Happy Family

Happy Family

1400 Bristol St.

Costa Mesa, CA 92626

714-668-9288

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Readers' Choice: Native Foods Café

When you finally tire of the narcissism and self-righteousness that pervades most vegetarian/vegan restaurants, come to Happy Family. Here, meat abstinence isn't a fashionable lifestyle choice; it's religion. Even if you don't quite buy the Buddhist sutras that forbid garlic and onion because they engender anger and irritability in mortals, you won't miss them. Besides, you could do well by being less angry and irritable these days. Whether by the power of suggestion, the things you eat here do actually put you at ease, as if you've recalibrated your karmic balance. Skip the mock meat and embrace such naturally occurring meat substitutes as oyster mushrooms. A gossamer-thin coating of batter turns them into crispy baseball-mitt-shaped morsels blessed with a meatiness akin to actual oysters. The signature fried bread—a Happy Family staple—takes on the crunchy exterior of a cake doughnut, which is the perfect foil for a blazing-hot tofu stir-fried with excessive amounts of sliced red chiles, which, thankfully, are not prohibited. $$

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